Earlier this week, I was still pondering last Sunday’s conclusion to 1 Peter, “Faith Tested by Fire,” reflecting upon the tremendous promises made at the conclusion of Peter’s letter :
“God will raise you up at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6).
“He cares for you” (5:7).
“He gives grace to the humble” (5:5).
“He is the God of all grace” (5:10).
“He has called you to glory” (5:10).
“He will perfect, strengthen, and establish you through your trials” (5:10).
When we’re right in the middle of the trial (or persecution, or whatever kind of adversity we’re facing), some of those promises seem hard to believe, … or at least to apply to our own situation.
Nevertheless, I’ve noticed in the Scriptures how God reinforces those promises through other teachings and stories. Two, specifically, came to my attention this week :
Moses & the Tree (Exodus 15) :
After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites journeyed three days into the wilderness and had no water. Imagine that ! When they finally came to a place of water, they couldn’t drink it because it was bitter. God showed Moses a tree to throw into the water, and the waters became sweet. I don’t know what kind of tree or plant it was that Moses threw into the waters that gave refreshment to their taste, but some Bible scholars have compared that tree to the cross of Christ. (Are they reading too much into the story ? Maybe, but maybe not – there are many references to Christ in the journey through the wilderness.) At any rate, the love and sufferings of our Savior at His crucifixion – the comfort and understanding He provides us, along with the security we have with God due to the forgiveness of our sins – take some of the really strong bitter taste out of our trials and eventually lead us to refreshment, blessing, and growth.
The Five Daughters of Zelophehad & Their Problem (Numbers 27) :
The five daughters of Zelophehad (let’s just call him “Z”) had a problem after the arrival of the Israelites in the Promised Land. Z had died ; Z didn’t have any sons ; and the Israelite law made no provision for daughters to inherit the portion normally due to the sons. The daughters of Z, having neither father, husband, son, or any other man in their immediate family, were left out completely ! But these women, instead of complaining to others, went straight to someone who had authority to do something about their adverse situation. In fact, Numbers 27:2 says they got together with Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders of Israel, and all the congregation (!) to present their problem. What a good reminder for me : instead of going around grumbling about my situation (in person, in text messages or emails), why not go to the One in authority who can do something about it ? A writer, in discussing this particular course of action, likens it to being stuck in a slow-moving line at the grocery store. She writes, “Rather than joining the other customers who are whining about the situation, I seek out (sometimes yell for) the store manager and ask him to open another register. Most of the time this works.” The daughters of Z did the same thing. We can too. God is the store manager. He delights to hear the prayers of His children, and He has a gracious answer to give.
What’s going on at Emmanuel ?
Exciting celebration & ministry for everyone ! This weekend :
Seder Meal, Friday at 6:00 pm.
Easter Sunday :
youth-led “Zoe” service at 8:00 am.
breakfast at the church at 9:00 am
baptisms at 9:45 am
worship at 10:15 am
Sunday, April 27
start of the final, and perhaps most impactful, of the adult classes in this year’s series – “Discovering My Life Mission” 401
“Trail Guide Through the Parables,” for 3-11 year-olds will run at the same time as the adult 401 class. A nursery will also be available.
ongoing SHAPE interviews and ministry planning with the Elder Board for those adults who completed the 301 class
A guide to summer activities at Emmanuel will be available at church this Sunday.
On my 1000 Gifts List
Diana and her daughters (“the daughters of D”) got me interested in this creation of an ongoing list of things for which to give thanks. I don’t know if I’m doing it right – never actually read the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp – but I have a list going anyway, and here are some things I added to it this week :
— My Sticky Group. We studied and prayed and ate and laughed and cried again this past Tuesday evening. I proposed a Sticky Group “anthem” which we could sing at the start and close of each meeting, but the group shot the idea down.
— Great times of one-on-one discipleship with several men in the church. I hope if you’re not involved in one-on-one discipleship, you will consider checking it out this summer.
— Return of the yellow finches to our feeder in front of the house. (I think they’re finches, anyway. Pretty sure they’re not canaries.) What a blessing these little birds are through their color, their music, and their activity. They get so busy and agitated, I feel like my life is a breeze in comparison !
— Renewed ties with French church family members. I’ve been happy to have some email contact with folks in France I hadn’t been in touch with for some time. In particular, Vincent, a young man from the first church we served in France, is going on staff with SIM France, the French arm of the SIM mission organization. He joins on that staff a couple who were part of the second church we served in France ! God does all things well, doesn’t He ? What a joy to see young people in France and in the US respond to the call to serve the Lord full-time. And now I learn that my daughter Emma and her husband Jason are giving serious consideration to serving full-time in missions in South America. Ask them about it – I’m sure they would appreciate your prayers for God’s guidance.
— SHAPE interviews with many of you. These discussions have been enriching and eye-opening to myself and the Elder Board. They will definitely contribute to a vision for future ministry at Emmanuel. Sign up for one if you were in the adult 301 class.
— Pastor Jeff’s ministry to me and to all of us. Grateful that Pastor Jeff and Allison have survived nearly three years of ministry among us ! May God bless and enlarge their impact on us and on our Hermann community.
What’s on your list today ?
Hope to see you this weekend !